[Congressional Record: January 22, 2003 (Senate)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
NOMINATION OF THOMAS J. RIDGE OF PENNSYLVANIA TO BE SECRETARY OF
Mr. DORGAN. Mr. President, first let me say I am pleased to announce
that I will vote for Governor Ridge, to confirm Governor Ridge for the
position of Secretary of Homeland Security.
I have known Governor Ridge for a long while. I served with him in
the House of Representatives. I think he is a public servant with great
skill and great dedication. I am very pleased to see him continue to
offer himself for public service. I am very pleased to cast a vote in
favor of his nomination. It is a good one. I commend President Bush for
sending it to us. And I think he will be confirmed overwhelmingly by
the Senate, if not unanimously.
Let me, however, say there are several things I am concerned about
with respect to homeland security. And it mirrors some of the
suggestions offered by my colleague just moments ago.
I want to say--as I indicate I am proud to vote for Governor Ridge--
there are three areas I hope very much we will make some significant
improvements in and for. Let me describe them.
First and foremost for me is information sharing. The task force
headed by former Senators Warren Rudman and Gary Hart, on October 25,
issued a report to this country. The report was titled ``America Still
Unprepared--America Still in Danger.'' It was a bipartisan task force
sponsored by the Council of Foreign Relations, which included former
Secretaries of State George Shultz and Warren Christopher; retired ADM
William Crowe, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and many
They found that 1 year after the September 11 attacks, America
remains dangerously unprepared for another terrorist attack. At the top
of their concerns--the top of their list--was this:
650,000 local and state police officials continue to
operate in a virtual intelligence vacuum, without access to a
terrorist watch list provided by the U.S. Department of State
that goes to immigration and consular officials.
Let me say that again. The watch list--the list that the Department
of State has, that has on it names of terrorists and suspected
terrorists--that list is not available to State and local law
enforcement officials across this country. And the Rudman-Hart report
says you have 650,000 additional eyes and ears out there in law
enforcement that ought to be able to access that report.
To give you an example, 36 hours before September 11 and those
devastating attacks, one of the hijackers, Ziad Jarrah, a 26-year-old
Lebanese national, who was flying the airplane that crashed in
Pennsylvania, was pulled over on Interstate 95 in the State of Maryland
by a Maryland State Police trooper for driving 90 miles an hour. He was
one of the key organizers of the al-Qaida terrorist cell formed in
Germany 3 years ago. He shared a Hamburg apartment with Mohammed Atta.
And he was at the controls of flight 93.
When this hijacker was pulled over by a Maryland trooper, he was
driving a rented car under his own name. This hijacker, it turns out,
was not on the watch list. But if he had been--and there is no reason
to think he would not have been, given today's circumstances--that
would have had no idea and no access to the information that he had
just pulled over someone who was a known terrorist, a suspected
If this afternoon, in Fargo, ND, a city police officer or a county
sheriff or a highway patrolman pulls over an automobile, and it is
filled with four people who snuck across the United States-Canadian
border in some remote area of our country, and those four people are on
the terrorist watch list, a list compiled by the State Department, that
city police officer or county sheriff will have no access to that
information. They can call in and get the NCIC and find out who has
been convicted of a felony and who has outstanding warrants, but they
are not able to get to the names on the State Department's watch list
of who the terrorists are, the known terrorists and suspected
terrorists. That is unforgivable, in my judgment.
Let me read a detailed excerpt from the Hart-Rudman report:
With just fifty-six field offices around the nation, the
burden of identifying and intercepting terrorists in our
midst is a task well beyond the scope of the FBI. This burden
could and should be shared with 650,000 local, county, and
state law enforcement officers, but they clearly cannot lend
a hand in [the] counterterrorism information void [that now
exists because] when it comes to combating terrorism, the
police officers on the beat are effectively operating deaf,
dumb, and blind.
Why? Because we have a list with the names of terrorists on it, and
the names of suspected terrorists on it, and the police officers and
the county sheriffs and the highway patrolmen have no access to that
list and are not allowed to have access to that list. That is wrong.
Let me continue quoting from the Hart-Rudman report:
Terrorist watch lists provided by the U.S. Department of
State to [the U.S.] immigration [folks] and consular
officials are still out of bounds for state and local police.
In the interim period as information sharing issues get
worked out, known terrorists will be free to move about to
plan and execute their attacks.
Even when they are stopped by local police officers, and even when
their names are run against the NCIC, those local law enforcement
officials have no ability, no capability, to run those names against
the watch list that contains the names of terrorists and suspected
This needs to get fixed. I hope Governor Ridge makes this a first
priority. This was the top recommendation of this blue ribbon
commission that says America is unprepared. This was their top
recommendation. And months after it was issued, to the best I can
understand, very little is happening in the administration to resolve
this. I believe very strongly it needs to be resolved, and soon.
Mr. President, how much time do I have remaining?
[ ... ]
Finally, let me talk about northern border security, border security
generally but northern border security specifically.
With respect to our borders, it is true that a country cannot defend
itself if it does not control its borders. It is the case, for example,
that we have had 10 times as many Border Patrol agents on the southern
border between the United States and Mexico as we have had on the
northern border. We have done that for many years because of
immigration and drug problems.
The fact is, the danger today is more than just that. The danger
today is the potential of terrorists sneaking into this country and
committing an act of terrorism. We have 4 or 5,000 miles of border
between the United States and Canada, a long border between two
countries that get along well.
Up in my part of the country where we have border stations in the
northern part of North Dakota, those stations close in many cases at 10
at night. Up until a year or so ago, the only thing that existed, once
those stations closed, was an orange cone in the middle of the road.
The impolite people who snuck into this country could shred that cone
at 60 miles an hour. The polite ones at least stopped to remove the
cone and put it back in place.
We have changed some of that but not enough. This is a long, porous
border. If this country is going to provide the security it needs for
the American people, then it has to have control of its borders. That
means we have to fund the Customs Service, the Immigration Service, and
the Border Patrol and have the coordination of those agencies that work
together to do the job they know needs doing.
[ ... ]
[ End ]
Share this page
Bookmark this page
The leading immigration law publisher - over 50000 pages of free information!
© Copyright 1995- American Immigration LLC, ILW.COM